Belfast Canvas Project (Painted Utility Boxes)

There are dozens of painted electrical boxes in Belfast – a small sample is presented here. (Please send us your pictures of ones we don’t have.)

The practice of painting street art on utility boxes is one found around the world and has been enthusiastically taken up by city councils and municipal bodies – a programme in Colorado dates back to 2004 (WP).

The fact that these programmes are administered (and funded) by municipalities has led some to question them – here is a 2017 plea to stop the practice: “this bizarre trend has less to do with beautification than it does with cities wanting to take control of street art, to make it sanctioned, palatable, institutional, and toothless”.

There are a few early examples of painted boxes but the practice was made mainstream in Belfast with the “Belfast Canvas” programme supported by Belfast City Council in 2019. A number of artists painted boxes that year when they were in town for Hit The North (a street art festival), and more artists were subsequently hired to add more, such as Danni Simpson in the summer of 2021 (Belfast Live) and Rob Hilken in March 2022 (Rob Hilken).

It is not clear that the painted boxes beyond the city centre have any connection to Belfast Canvas or any public funding.

To be clear, these are electical boxes painted with street art – sectarian markings are sometimes put on electrical boxes. Here are a few: UVF | IRA | BRY

City Centre

Get Paid – PB (2012)
X00651 – North St
Branch – Caolan Doyle (2015)
Royal Ave – X02881
Eyes – VaneMG
North St – X06813
Electic Avenue – Leo Boyd
Castle St – T01738
Eyes – Wee Nuls
Fountain Ln – X11551
Pola Negri – KVLR
Writers’ Sq – X06801
Pierced Nose – Irony
Dunbar Link – T01861
Boy – ?Dreph?
College Ave – X10723
Female Face – K in Mx
High St – T01878
Girl With Music – Emily Nayhree
High St – T01879
Green Hair – KVLR
Queen St – T01884
Spike Collar – Irony
Queen St – X07321
Landscape – ?Hicks?
Franklin St – X10712
Face – emic
Royal Ave – X10363
It’ll Be Grand – Danni Simpson
Linenhall St – T01886
Long Face Matches – GW Joyce
Cornmarket – T02298
Blueberries – Rob Hilken
North St – X11422
Dulse & Yellowman– Rob Hilken
Talbot St – X11433
Apples – Rob Hilken
Oxford St – T01870
Geo 1 – Rob Hilken
North St – X10361
Geo 2 – Rob Hilken
North St – X10362

East Belfast

Wish You Were Here – FGB
Newtownards Rd – X08979

West Belfast – CNR

Belfast Grá Mór
Ardmoulin St – X07731
Brittons Pde – X11515
Yes, I Donate
Divismore Way – X11524
Springfield Rd – X11521
Fáilte Chuig Baile Uí Mhurchú
Springfield Rd – X11520
Springfield Rd – X11518
Gáirdín Na hÉireann
Springfield Rd – X11519

West Belfast – PUL

Mythic Arch – Cultivar
Shankill Rd – X06546

Key to reference numbers. Thanks to the following for the use of their images.

T = Paddy Duffy
X = Extramural Activity

Copyright © 2023 Extramural Activity. Images are copyright of their respective photographers.

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